Catherine Roma is a Local Hero in Music

Warren Correctional, Just One Place Where Catherine Roma Works Magic(Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/billyv/)
Warren Correctional, Just One Place Where Catherine Roma Works Magic(Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/billyv/)

A few years back I produced a one hour broadcast special on choral music and choirs in Ohio. I met Dr. Catherine Roma, founder and director of Cincinnati’s MUSE Choir and director of the UMOJA choir at the Warren Correctional Facility in Lebanon, Ohio.

Catherine invited me to attend an early morning rehearsal with the men at Warren. I had never been inside a prison before. I’ve seen too many bad movies and too much bad television.

I found a lot of humanity among the staff, the inmates, and certainly with Catherine.

About twenty men were crowded into a shoe box like room, with only an electronic keyboard, and this small woman with great ears who was filled with empathy and enthusiasm. I had some time to talk with the men. I asked how many of you are fathers? Nearly all the hands went up.  How many of you are grandfathers? A lot of hands stayed up. I shuddered at the thought of being a kid having his grandpa in prison.

Catherine Roma won a Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts last year from the Ohio Arts Council. The Award is richly deserved.  I haven’t seen Catherine in a few years. It may be my name today means nothing to her, but hers certainly means “hero” to me.

Click  here to watch Catherine’s speech at the Governor’s Awards/OAC last year

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